B.C. Industry News

Vancouver Sun – Opinion: Egg freezing a viable option for women who choose to have children later in life

May 13, 2014

By Sonya Kashyap, Special to the Vancouver Sun May 13, 2014

The number of women choosing to bear children later in life — or at least the option to extend their fertility out of personal choice ¬â€” is becoming an increasingly popular trend. Game changing technology such as egg freezing is providing women with the option of bearing a child later in life when they are fiscally and vocationally ready. And why not? Women nowadays can have it all.A shining example is the recent engagement of Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney. Alamuddin is an exceptionally accomplished and respected woman. Not only has the Lebanon native received a prestigious legal education from Oxford University and New York University, her accolades include representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his fight against extradition from Sweden, being appointed to a number of United Nations commissions and fluently speaking three languages.

The successful soon-to-be Mrs. Clooney can be regarded as an inspiration for many women. At age 36, she has chosen to build her professional career, achieving personal growth and independence before embarking on a life with a partner and children. Some view Alamuddin’s choices to be empowering while others criticize women in her position for abandoning critical child-bearing years she will never get back.

Whether or not having children is a priority for the couple opens the discussion on fertility. Some women of her age conceive easily, while others need minor medical intervention to become pregnant or even require more aggressive treatment such as in vitro fertilization. In addition, the risk of carrying a child with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders may increase. Fortunately for women in situations such as that of Alamuddin, technology such as egg freezing circumvents some of the negative issues associated with having children at a later stage in life.

The idea of egg freezing as “the” method for a brighter future for career women was strongly articulated in Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover story, “Freeze your eggs, free your career.” Although the idea of egg freezing being a technological advancement in fertility was positively received, some critics contend that egg freezing has been commercialized, trivializing the need for gender equality in the workplace. I will not argue the merits for vocational gender equality but I can support the science behind egg freezing. In the current job market, women feel conflicting pressure to either have a child or further their career. Egg freezing provides an option, albeit not a guarantee, to postpone making a decision between family and profession.

Additionally, egg freezing may be an option in the case of unforeseen medical conditions and treatments such as cancer and chemotherapy, which are also causes for infertility. Nevertheless, until one tries to conceive, it’s unknown if infertility could be an issue.

I am an avid supporter of individuals and couples having children when they think they are ready. As Canadian Infertility Awareness Week approaches at the end of May, there’s no better time than now to consult with your family doctor about options for maintaining and extending your fertility.

There may not be many Amal Alamuddin’s out there, but I have many patients who are freezing their eggs to keep their options open. They’ll still have a chance at having a child when it is best for them.

Dr. Sonya Kashyap is director of the Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver.